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Soft was the vale! its gentle habitants
“ See, my dear brother,” said Lucy, taking the small basket from Clinton, with a half-suppressed sigh, have found many varieties of flowers since we left you. Here is a very large wild peach, too, Clinton plucked it for Jane, he said, but I shall give it to my brother, and if he will, he shall give it to Jane.”
Jane raised her eyes to Clinton, and saw him gazing at her with a peculiar expression of the eye. He then looked at the peach, and again at her, giving her to understand by his glance, that he wished her to take it. But Jane, when the fruit was offered to her by Arthur, at once refused it, with such a manner as she hoped would convey to Clinton her strong sense of dislike at his conduct.
The Pastor was now seen walking deliberately up to the elevation. Lucy went to meet him, but Clinton remained, leaning against the rock that rose at the back of Jane.
“ Well, children," said the Pastor smilingly, when he had reached the summit of the crag, “You are enjoying this fine weather in a very grand situation. Well, well. Do not let me disturb you. Nay, Jane, sit still. I see Arthur has been entertaining you here with the sublime and the beautiful. He has been, I make no doubt, pointing out to your notice every object of the surprising prospect before you, and has gravely instructed you by very profound homilies on them.–Very well—very well.”
Arthur laughed, a little confused, while Jane looked down, and especially when the former openly took her hand and drew her back to the seat of sod on which she had been sitting, not altering in the least his position by her side. Emotions of happiness arose in her breast as she marked this evidence of his sincerity, nor were they diminished when the Pastor himself sat down close by her, and spoke to her more familiarly than ever he had done before.
“ I came home," said he, “ about a half an hour ago, and inquiring for my children, heard that they were all out on a ramble; and, said Irish Deborah, who was stirring, with all the strength of her strong red arms, a pot of preserves in the kitchen, they have got the kitar with 'em, your worship, and the rush basket, so I don't expict 'em afore dark at any rate. Hearing this, I turned about, and bidding her prepare the tea, came away to look after my runaways.” He then talked of a farm he had been visiting
“ Have you had no refreshments, grandfather, since you came back ?” inquired Arthur. On being answered in the negative, he called to Lucy, who was standing at the farthest end of the broad rocky platform, harkening to Clinton, who was quoting from English poets passages in unison with the scene, and asked her if she was willing to go down now to the lodge. Lucy sent Clinton to desire Jane to go first, and see that the preparations for the afternoon meal were made in the garden. Jane was in the act of rising in obedience to the request, but Arthur held her back.
“Grandfather," said he, “ Jane Anderson must not be looked upon in the character of a servant after this moment."
His tone was decisive-his manner no less so. The Pastor looked neither surprised nor displeased.
“ As you will, my son,” said he, with much feeling. “ I hope you will, both of you, behave to each other with honour and affection;" and added, after a minute's silence,' “ that all your lives henceforth may be as guiltless and as bright as this. Jane," he laid his hand on her head, “ I give you my blessing; and, if a mutual love exists between you and my son, there is no inequality of circumstances should sever you. My son, I hope as this maiden appears so destitute of friends, and of fortune, you will supply to her the place of both."
“ That I will,” said Arthur, calmly, but with affecting energy
“Dear sir,” said Jane, tremulously, to the Pastor, “ I wish to speak with you alone, when you will give me leave.”
“ Come to my study this evening,” said the Pastor " there, indeed, I should like to meet with you both together."
“ You can have nothing to say, my dear Jane, that I may not hear,” said Arthur, “il you have really
entire confidence in me, and have opened your heart to me without reserve."
“ I have done so," said Jane, quietly ; " yet, if please, I must speak with the Pastor alone.”
“ So you shall, my child,” said the Pastor. to me alone, then, directly after tea."
“ Thank you sir," said Jane.
Lucy and Clinton had heard nothing of this short conversation, he had rejoined her as soon as his message was delivered, and she was now turning over, unconsciously, the specimens in her basket, which stood before her, on a little projection of the rock. Clinton was speaking with much caution of Jane. He asked Lucy if she was aware of her brother's attachment to the latter. Lucy answered Yes. Clinton then wished to know if the Pastor approved his choice. This Lucy could not tell, but she thought Arthur had made him acquainted with it.
“ Has he indeed !” exclaimed Clinton, biting his lip. “ He was bold to take such a step-I should not have had the same hardihood, had I been situated as he is. Jane is very fortunate, too. I fear, Miss Lee, I should not have met the same favour, had my ambition led me to seek the hand of the sister of Arthur." This was said in a passionate manner, and Lucy artlessly rejoined
“ You cannot tell you think too hardly of my grandfather," and there stopped.
Clinton took no notice of the direct encouragement she had thus given him, but struck off into another subject, while her mild face gradually assumed a deep paleness, as the shock of wounded pride agitated her spirit.
* Jane, I thought you were gone to the lodge,” said
Lucy, stepping forward, and addressing the former, as a sort of relief from the oppressive sensations she felt.
“ No-no,” said the Pastor, “ I could not let her go without us. And how does your guitar sound, Mr. Clinton, among these tremendous rocks? Suppose you tune a few stanzas on it, before we return home. You can handle the poet's lyre, as well as the musician's instrument, I have heard, so perhaps we shall have a few verses of your own, to some favourite air of the British isles.”
Clinton placed his guitar beneath his arm, and, touching it softly and tenderly, sang in a superior style, slowly, the following irregular lines, as he stood near the edge of the precipice :
Come hither, come hither, my own true love!
On the shell-strewed shore we'll roam ;
In their coronals of foam;
While the gentle kin of the giant blast,
From the groves sweet odours bring,
With their dreamy murmuring.
There is a cave, where the sleepy wave
For ages hath sought to rest ;
It creeps to that darksome nest.
And its querulous 'plaint is all that's heard,
Oh, thither love hie with me!
Shunning the world—like thee.
Arthur, springing up, drew the arm of Jane through his own, then looking at Lucy with affection, said to her“ Tie on your bonnet, sister, and draw the scarf double